Various Benefits of Pet Massage

Various Benefits of Pet Massage

By R. G. Kirk

When done properly, massage relaxes hypertonic (tight) muscles, provides a feeling of emotional comfort, and improves blood circulation. Having adequate blood circulation is essential, because it is the blood stream that provides a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients to the surrounding tissues of the body. Massage can break down adhesions (knots) and promote healing after muscle exertion and fatigue. It can reduce anxiety and increase mobility. These benefits apply to not only humans, but also extend to our four-footed friends. Pet massage is now recognized as not only being calming for your beloved cat or dog, but it is excellent relaxation therapy for the human providing the massage as well.

Like all art forms, one’s ability to massage improves with regular practice. There are a number of massage strokes that most pets will enjoy. Be gentle and take your cues from your pet. Effleurage is a type of massage stroke that is deliberately light, and done in a gliding-type motion. This gentle stroke often occurs at the beginning of a massage, in order to “warm up” the muscles in preparation for deeper massage. In effleurage, strokes are generally made toward the heart. This assists in the return of blood to the heart and is thought to facilitate proper circulation.

Petrissage is a deeper, kneading massage stroke used after the muscles have already received increased blood flow through effleurage. This stroke is performed with the palm and fingers in a methodical, rhythmical manner. Petrissage stimulates the skin and improves muscle tone. It can improve the elimination of toxins and waste products that have accumulated in the tissues. This massage stroke can be performed with one or both hands.

Stroking is commonly used at the end of a massage. It involves the rubbing of the hands against the fur and skin, without pressing hard enough to affect your pet’s deeper tissues. Any part of the hands and fingers can be used.

As you gain experience with massaging your pet, experiment with using different parts of your hands during the massage. Your pet may also enjoy being brushed as a part of the massage. There are a variety of pet brushes available. Select one that your pet receives the most pleasure from.

As in the case of human massage, there are contraindications for pet massage, which include, but are not limited to: infection, open cuts, burns, inflammation, brittle bones, pregnancy, recent surgery, and serious health conditions. If you doubt the safety of a particular movement, do not perform it. It is often best if you consult your veterinarian before beginning a massage regimen.

Massage is a wonderful way to bond with your dog or cat. Set aside a quiet time each week for pet massage. You will be amazed at the difference in your beloved animal.

After receiving her doctorate in 2001, R. G. Kirk has published numerous articles on a wide range of topics. She is currently the marketing director for – a company that provides international travel opportunities, and focuses on luxury pet vacations.

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